Samford graduate Devlin “Duck” Hodges made his first NFL start for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night.
The FCS all-time passing leader and 2018 Walter Payton award winner completed 15 of 20 passes for 132 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the win.
As the Kimberly, Alabama native instantly became a fan favorite in the Steel City due to his hockey and duck calling backgrounds, Hodges rapidly moved up the Steelers’ depth chart just a few short weeks ago.
The undrafted rookie started this season on the team’s practice squad. However, due to a season-ending elbow injury to first-string quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a neck injury to backup Mason Rudolph, Hodges received a golden opportunity, a chance to be relied on as the offensive play-caller for the Black and Gold.
Hodges made his NFL debut in Pittsburgh’s loss to Baltimore a week earlier as he entered the game in the third quarter after Rudolph exited the contest with an injury. He immediately led the team down the field on a go-ahead scoring drive, but the Steelers eventually fell in overtime 26-23.
On Sunday night, Hodges comfortably sat in the pocket and made simple passes against the Chargers. His single touchdown pass was the result of a 26-yard screen completion to running back James Conner, increasing the Steelers’ advantage to 21-0 in the second quarter.
Hodges entered halftime with only one incompletion and 70 yards in the air to go along with his one touchdown pass.
In the second half, Hodges continued to find success as the Steelers continued to control the game on the offensive side of the ball.
Hodges’ only mistake of the night came early in the fourth quarter as he threw a deep pass that was intercepted by Charger safety Rayshawn Jenkins.
Hodges would finish the game with 132 yards passing as the Steelers recorded their second win of the season.
“I felt calm, cool and collected,” said Hodges after the game. “I wish I could take the interception back but in the end, we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
The squad will enter the bye week with a 2-4 record. “Duck” will spend his off week in Saskatchewan duck-hunting with his father Zane.
Hodges will have a chance to make his second NFL start on Oct. 28 as the Steelers face off against the Dolphins in Pittsburgh. The Monday Night Football matchup will be broadcasted on ESPN at 7:15 p.m CST.
Gunnar Sadowey is the sports editor for the Crimson. He is a senior from Elkhart, IN. Gunnar is currently a journalism and mass communications major with a print concentration and a German minor.